Valentin Bousch (French, active 1514–41, died 1541)
French, Lorraine, Metz
Glass, painted and stained
Overall: H. 142 1/4 x W. 67in. (361.3 x 170.2cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1917
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 502
This window comes from a series of seven windows made for the choir of the Benedictine priory church of Saint-Firmin in Flavigny-sur-Moselle in the Lorraine region of France.
The windows had been commissioned by the prior, Wary de Lucy (1510–1557) from Valentin Bousch, a glass painter in Metz who had already worked on a number of important projects including Metz cathedral. Bousch was occupied by the Flavigny-sur-Moselle project in the early 1530s. Three of the extant monumental windows from the series each bear a date (1531, 1532 and 1533). Bousch was one of the most significant master glaziers in north-eastern France in the sixteenth century and has long been recognized as an important participant in the stylistic and technical developments of the Northern Renaissance.
Together, the windows presented a Biblical narrative reflecting the story of humanity, starting with the Creation and Fall of Man (until recently in a private collection, Langley, British Columbia), then consecutively depicting the Deluge (MMA 17.40.2a–r), Moses presenting the tablets of Law (MMA 17.40.1a–r), the Nativity or Annunciation at the east end (lost), the Crucifixion (Saint Joseph's church, Stockbridge, Mass.), the Resurrection or the Supper at Emmaus (lost) and, finally, the Last Judgement (lost). Decorative consoles at the base of each window (not currently on view) depict the arms of Savigny and Craincourt, Wary de Lucy's forbearers.
In these windows, Valentin Bousch rejected traditional compartmentalization, instead treating each composition like an enormous painted or carved retable, with trompe l'œil architectural frames. Brilliant hues of colored glass are combined with painted areas of grisaille and silver-stain on clear glass. The windows provide an early example of daring virtuoso glass-cutting to achieve sharp and sinuous contours. As a group, the windows are remarkable because of their nuanced modeling, their vitality of composition, lifelike features and the contrast of exquisite landscape details (like those in the Moses window) with dramatic dynamism (most skilful in the Deluge window).
Inscription: On tablet held by left predella figure: [ET] ECCE EGO/ AD[D]VCAM/ AQVAS DI/ LVVII [SUPER] TERR[AM UT] IN[TER]/ FICI/ AM O[MN]E[M]/ CARNEM/ IN AQVA (sic)/ ['[And,] behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, in the water' Genesis, 6:17 (Authorized King James Version), N.B.: verse actually ends 'in qua spiritus vitæ est subter cælum' / 'in which is the breath of life', not 'in aqua' / 'in the water', as in inscription]
On tablet held by the right predella figure: [ET] MVLTIPLI/ CAT[A]E SV[N]T/ AQV[A]E ET/ ELEVAVE-/RV[N]T ARCA[M]/ IN SVB/LIME [A] TERR[A] ['[And] the waters increased, and bare up the ark and it was lift (sic) up above the earth' Genesis, 7:17 (Authorized King James Version)]
Central reservation between prophet predella figures: FRAVS/ INIMICA/ LVCI/ 1531 ['Fraud the enemy of light 1531' (donor's motto)]
On lowest register (not on view in gallery): Shield, argent with foliations, three lions rampant sable, armed and langued gules, ducally crowned or, surmounted by coronet and flanked by amorini and scrolls (at center of decorative "plinth") [donor's arms]
Across lowest register: F I L [initials of donor's motto]
At base of "plinth" springer: Two small shields, each or, V and B sable [initials of Valentin Bousch]
Commissioned for Wary de Lucy ; [ Arnold Seligmann, Rey and Company, New York , 1917; sold to MMA ]